PICKENS COUNTY — This is the time of year that United Christian Ministries needs to build stores of food to deliver to the hungry.
“If we don’t get it now, we don’t get it,” said David Moody who has been helping coordinate food supply for the aid agency for about 10 years.
The need is great with the agency providing food to 180 to 220 households per month, UCM Director Teresa Nash said. “We provide about 51,000 per year, using a budget of $18,000 to $22,000 in purchased goods and up to $125,000 in donated food. “You can see how important the donated food is,” she said.
“We have always had a group of the chronically poor, retirees on a fixed income, the disabled whose situations are never going to get any better,” Nash said. The numbers began to increase quickly in 2005 and 2006. Now Nash and Moody are seeing middle class people who have lost jobs and need to seek assistance.
Everyone who applies for assistance must undergo a check to insure their needs. “Every time they come in, they are interviewed to make sure nothing has changed for them,” Moody said.
The season of giving around the Christmas holidays sees a huge influx of donated non-perishable food items say moody and Nash.
Year round the organization is supported by about 80 churches. It was formed in 1989 as a coordinated food bank ministry by area churches. It has grown to include clothing and some financial aid for utility bills, said Nash.
The organization does its work with a budget of $245,000 annually. That comes from the churches and some corporate donations. “I am amazed at the number of groups that choose to adopt us as a project, Sunday school classes, women’s circles.
Corporate donations can range into the thousands of dollars annually. But some of the checks may be $25 from an individual or a couple of hundred from a small group. “It all adds up,” she said.
The program was designed to meet emergency needs if someone loses a job or has a health problem, said Nash.
The problems with the hungry also are linked to problems people have with making utility payments, heating bills and getting adequate clothing. Clothing is something that UCM can help with directly. The organization distributes cash cards that can be used at Miracle Hill Thrift Store. UCM receives clothing donations at its location on Dacusville Highway north of Easley, but staffing and space won’t allow UCM to handle the distribution directly, Nash said. The clothing donations made to UCM are routed through Miracle Hill clothing bank.
UCM also offers limited assistance for utility bill and heating.
“We recently found out about a family that was living without electricity,” Nash said. “The school bus driver noticed that the family seemed to be getting ready for the day using flash lights. The children came to school clean and with homework done but had no electricity. That was going on in the city. That shouldn’t happen,” she said. “Someone had lost a job and gotten behind on electricity payments.”
UCM worked with SHARE to get the family’s electricity bill caught up and the power turned back on, she said.
Check back with this newspaper and at theeasleyprogress.com, pickenssentinel.com and powdersvillepost.com for more holiday stories about aid agencies and the people they serve who are in need.